The great cure

She must be thinking

She must be thinking “Hmmm, I feel better already!”
Liebesglück (“The Diary Entry”) by August Müller (1836–1885)
public domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.”C. S. Lewis

It seems that a great many people don’t like to write, and I find that amazing. Whether I’m writing a letter, an email, a blog post or a grocery list, there is nothing that comes more easily to me (as my patient readers have discovered). That doesn’t mean I’m a good writer; plenty of people who are exceptionally good writers, including my husband and older son, don’t write nearly as much or as often as I do — though I wish they did. And plenty of us who write reams will never be numbered among the gifted, or even the widely published. It’s still a wonderful exercise for the mind, heart and soul.

I agree with Lewis that writing is therapeutic. It benefits the writer, and in some cases, it also benefits those who read the writing. In fact, it can even benefit those who never read it. I have often written poems, stories and letters that I never intended anyone to read. In doing so, I have unburdened myself without unduly burdening others. Thus my unread writings may have benefited those who know me, whether they realize it or not. I’m sure many others could say the same.

But sometimes we have the great good fortune of encountering an author who loves to write, and is very good at doing it. Such writers somehow convey their joy in the writing process without ever mentioning it. Their fluid pace or razor-sharp descriptions imply years of close acquaintance with pen and ink. The act of writing surely served a helpful or joyful end in their own lives, but its greatest contribution by far lies in the untold numbers of people who are led to ponder, rejoice, laugh or cry at the bits of life that have been translated into words through ink coupled with imagination.

If you’re feeling fed up, remember the wise words of my favorite author. Ink (even the electronic version of it) is a great cure. Spend a few minutes confiding your thoughts to a paper or screen. Promise yourself that you can burn, erase or delete anything you don’t want anyone else to see. Then start. You might be surprised how much it will help.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Judy

    A certain person I know, when he feels especially worn out by life’s wounds, writes his prayer to God on a piece of paper and then, when he’s done reflecting on those words, burns the paper in his wood stove. The smoke carries the prayer in a physical way.

    Myself, sometimes when I’ve felt especially burdened, I’ve typed a letter to God on my computer and then emailed it to Him. Of course it always comes back “address unknown”, but I know that He has received it even before I hit the Send key

    And then there are the troublesome people to whom I’d love to give a piece of my mind but I know that I should take the higher road and disengage from their turmoil. Still, I can write/type out my frustrations, muse over them for a while, and then throw the note away. It helps get the frustrations out of my system. You’re so right about how that helps, Julia!

    I hadn’t remembered that quote from C.S. Lewis, who is one of my favorite authors. Somehow I don’t think of him as having moments when he was fed up with life. I guess he must have had his disappointments and frustrations, too.

    • Judy, he had many of them. If I had stayed in my PhD program, I was torn between doing my dissertation on Lewis, or on Fred Rogers (another of my great heroes). If I had written about Lewis, I would have focused on his role as a caregiver. Few people know how many years he spent in that role, to more than one individual who would have tried anyone’s patience. Yet another way in which I feel an almost mystical connection to him. Lately I’ve been trying hard to summon the desire to write, but haven’t managed it. I was all fired up and the words flowed effortlessly at Oxford in July, but then I had to come home to reality and doctors (mine and Matt’s) took over my focus. I’m sure it has something to do with the pain I’ve endured from the bone graft surgery, and knowing that it’s going to be a long, slow healing process. I keep reminding myself that physical trauma is bound to induce a cortisol crash. So I’m trying to be patient with myself.

  2. mike c

    Do you think our educational system and how writing is taught has anything to do with it?I understand that writing is taught differently now. Especially at the beginning where you are encouraged to buzzsaw a draft and get something on paper. Of course rewriting is a different matter and sometimes- it seems- agonizing,

    • Mike, I could talk for hours on this, but let’s just say I think our educational system has gone down the toilet and leave it at that.

  3. Note to self: write to Julia!

    • Don’t lose that one! 😀

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: